Knights of the Golden Circle


Brooke Smith's Connection to the Knights of the Golden Circle

Posted by Jay Longley on January 4, 2015 at 8:15 PM

I originally posted the following message on our Bloody Bill Anderson Mystery group's message board in July, 2006, shortly after creating our group.

Jay Longley

[email protected]


I was called to the Library Annex today to pick up an article about

Wild Bill Longley and, since I was there, I started thumbing through

a few more local history books and what I discovered blew my mind! I

picked up a typewritten book entitled "Memoirs of Brooke Smith of

Brownwood, Texas" written by "Himself". He wrote it from 1933-35.

Brooke Smith, like Henry Ford, was one of the early-day leaders of

Brownwood, Texas. He moved to Brownwood in the mid-1870's and opened

a general mercantile and soon became a well-known and respected

banker and civic leader. Since he was only a boy at the beginning of

the Civil War, he remained at home with his parents in Indiana after

moving there from Virginia where his family owned several slaves.

Apparently, he abided by the "Code" (of silence) that Henry Ford's

great grandson Lex Johnston mentioned in his book about his great

grandfather because nothing is said about the mysterious Henry Ford

or Bill Anderson in his book. But, to my knowledge, the page I am

about to quote below has never been revealed in recent decades until



"...his passage to Detroit, and arriving there he crossed the river

to Windsor, Canada, and stayed there until the war ended. He was

there about a year, and when he came home he had about a quart cup

full of silver money. We hadn't seen anything but greenbacks for

four years, and we thought Channing was rich. When the soldiers came

after Channing and asked where he was, Pa said, 'He said he was going

to slip over into Kentucky and join John Morgan's cavalry.' During

the war, after so many had volunteered and gone South, our vicinity

was about equally divided between the remaining northern and southern

sympathisers, and the friends of the South organized a secret

society, known as "The Knights of the Golden Circle". Our attic was

one of their favorite meeting places; they would come dark nights,

quietly, singly, and in every conceivable disguise. Camp Morton, at

Indianapolis, was a Federal military prison, and there were some

twenty to twenty-five thousand Southern prisoners confined there.

(Jim Smith was a prisoner there). Indianapolis had a large supply

arsenal, with arms and munitions and military food supplies. The

plan was that John Morgan would come over from Kentucky with his

cavalry army, and make a swift raid to Indianapolis, and that as he

came along, the Southern sympathisers would join and augment his

forces, and at the appointed and expected time the Knights of the

Golden Circle would gather at Indianapolis from all over the State,

all in all would have made a pretty large fighting force. There was

a book-binder in Indianapolis named H.H. Dodd, and the big long

revolvers to be supplied to the Knights of the Golden Circle were

shipped to Dodd from Hartford, Connecticut, labeled "Sunday School

Books', and these pistols were known as 'Dodd's Sunday School Books',

and those things would shoot; it is claimed that they would shoot

through a telegraph pole, or would shoot through a span of mules and

break both legs of the rider. My father was allotted one of the

Sunday School Books, and it is now in our family and is loaded with

the same loads he put in it to take to Indianapolis. Margan

attempted his contemplated raid, but it was not successful. Indiana

had too many railroads and too much telegraph line that cavalry

travel could not compete with, and before he got well on the way he

was overwhelmed with numbers and driven back to Kentucky. Some one

had tipped the secret of the expedition, and given the plan away, and

that is the reason that Morgan's expedition was not a big success.

The plan was to raid the arsenal, free the prison, and arm the

prisoners, which, together with Morgan, the Knights and the

prisoners, would have made history. Dodd was betrayed, arrested, and

given the death penalty, and was confined in the Indianapolis jail.

The next night was cold and drizzling, and someone went to the jail,

attracted his attention, and threw him a ball of twine, which he drew

up, sawed out of prison, came down the rope and escaped to Canada,

where he remained until the war was over. He came back to

Indianapolis and was never executed. Then there were the public

political parties that had their organizations and their flag poles

and their public speakings and torch light processions and






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